Ten Uses for Salt Other Than for Cooking

Other Uses for Salt in the Home

Salt isn’t only for cooking. In fact, it can be used in a multitude of different ways all around the household. Here are ten new ways to use salt around the house.

  1. Sterilize your sponges

All you need to do to sterilize your kitchen sponges is make a salt water bath. Let the sponges soak in the salt water for a few minutes. Then, remove the sponges and rinse.

  1. Clean your drains

To clean drains, pour salt down your drain and follow it with a bit of white vinegar. Afterward, clear the mixture with hot water.

  1. Clean up egg

If you crack an egg, and it doesn’t end up in the bowl, throw some salt on it. Salt stops the egg yolk from spreading, making it easier to clean up.

  1. Remove baked-on food

If you are having trouble removing baked-on food, pour some salt on the area and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, add a bit more salt and scrub the area with a lime wedge.

  1. Douse flames

A fire, such as one in a fireplace or a campfire, can be put out faster when dousing it with salt. Using salt helps the ashes and residue gather together, making it easier to clean up the fire. Additionally, using salt to douse a fire causes there to be less soot.

  1. Absorb food stains

If you accidentally get some of your dinner on your shirt or pant, rub some salt in it! The salt works to absorb the stain. Afterward, throw the clothing item into the wash as normal. This method can also be used on a carpet.

  1. Clean pit stains

This is especially helpful for all your white shirts! Make a paste of salt and water and rub it on the stain. Let it sit for an hour and then wash it as normal.

  1. Clean your iron

Turn your iron up to the highest setting, making sure to turn off the steam feature. Then, run a cloth with salt on it over the metal piece of your iron.

  1. Polish copper/brass

Use a combination of lemon and salt to create a scouring pad. To do this, cut the lemon in half and pour salt on it and rub it over the copper or brass piece. Afterward, rinse the area.

  1. Relieve a sore throat

This doesn’t cure a sore throat, but it does well for temporary relief. Fill a cup with warm water and stir in a pinch of salt until it is fully dissolved. Gargle the mixture, being sure not to swallow it, and spit.

 

How to Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

Keep your pipes from freezing

A real threat to your home during the winter is your pipes. When water freezes, it expands, which can cause your pipes to burst and your home to flood. The damage caused to your home can be monumental, and on average, amounts to about $18,000 in damages. Here’s how to keep your pipes from freezing.

  1. Drain your pipes

Getting the water out of the pipes certainly helps. If there’s no water in the pipes, there’s no chance of it freezing! To do so, tackle any water lines leading to your garden hose, pool, and/or sprinkler. After the water valves are shut off, open the spigots to let out any remaining water.

  1. Keep it on

Let your faucets drip once temperatures drop below freezing. Allowing water to run through a pipe helps to prevent the pipes from freezing. It doesn’t have to be a stream, just a trickle will do! The running water helps to relieve any pressure building up from ice inside.

  1. Open doors

Indoor pipes can also be an issue when temperatures drop below freezing. One way to reduce this risk is to keep any bathroom or kitchen cabinet doors open that contain pipes. The improved airflow keeps the pipes warmer.

  1. Insulate piping

This is especially important in areas that are left unheated or are not insulated. Such spaces can include your basement, attic, or any crawl spaces. Any piping in these areas should be insulated using an insulation sleeve or wrapping, both of which can be purchased at a local hardware store.

  1. Shut off water

Many people take vacations during the winter. If you are traveling during the holidays or taking a family vacation, it’s a good idea to turn your water off completely while you are gone. Unused water is most likely to freeze, which can lead to pipes bursting. You definitely don’t want to come home to a flooded house! The water shut-off valve is usually located where water pipes enter the home. Typically, this is in the kitchen, basement, or a downstairs bathroom. If you are unsure of where your water shut-off valve is, check your property records.

How to Protect Your Hardwood Floors in the Winter

Hardwood Floor Protection

Hardwood floors are durable. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need extra care. This is especially true in the winter. Here are some ways to take care of your hardwood floors this winter.

  1. Wipe your feet

There’s no reason to bring dirt into your home and onto your floors. Materials such as mud, dirt, and snow can cause damage to your floors. Use outdoor mats for a first line of defense to wipe your feet off and take your shoes off as soon as you get inside.

  1. Keep it clean

Proper cleaning is very important to taking care of your floors and keeping them look nice. Sweeping your floors is the best defense for scratches from debris. Puddles of water from snow or ice can cause permanent damage to your floors, so be sure to clean any puddles of water quickly. To clean, absorb any moisture with a towel, mop the area, and then allow it to dry completely. If you see any salt in the water, be careful! Salt can cause scratches on your floors.

  1. Keep the right temperature

The cooler temperatures of the winter cause wood to shrink because of the reduced moisture in your home. Hardwood floorboards are manufactured to withstand slight temperature and humidity fluctuations. However, drastic changes can cause damage to the wood, including splits and cracks. To avoid shrinking issues, use a humidifier and keep your thermostat at a temperature your floors can withstand.

  1. Use rugs and covers

Use rugs and covers on your floors to protect them from snow, dirt, ice, and salt that may get tracked inside (even after wiping your feet off!). Salt can leave an abrasive residue on your floors to can not only scratch your floors but can also pose a threat for slipping. Additionally, salt can damage the finish of the floor and the wood itself. Protect your floors by placing protective rugs in high traffic areas of your home.

How to Remove Snow and Ice

Snow and Ice Removal

As colder weather sets in, the threat of snow and ice starts to build. Here’s how to remove snow and ice to make your driveway safer.

  1. Before the snow

Before the snow comes, drive stakes around any plant beds near your driveway. This gives you an idea of where to stop shoveling so you don’t damage your plants. To protect your property from ice and snow buildup, use a liquid magnesium chloride blend a few hours before the storm hits. Use a garden sprayer to apply the blend. The magnesium chloride blend can melt slow accumulations of less than two inches and can keep ice from bonding to surfaces.

  1. Look for a shovel

A shovel should have a lightweight plastic or aluminum blade that’s coated with a nonstick finish. The blade shouldn’t be too big, to avoid the temptation to overload the shovel. An S-shaped shaft is the best to avoid bending too much and hurting your back. Metal blades shouldn’t be used on softer materials, such as wooden decking. A pusher is best for clearing lightweight, fluffy snow.

  1. Don’t wait

Don’t wait for the storm to be over to begin shoveling. Keep shoveling as the snow is falling to avoid having to remove tightly packed snow. In addition, shoveling while it is still storming makes it so the snow can’t bond to any surfaces. Continuously removing snow also prevents ice from forming, as the sunlight gets an opportunity to warm up the pavement.

  1. Snowblower

Snowblowers work well to clear large, flat areas. Make sure to spray the exit chute with silicone to keep the snow from sticking before each use. After you are done, let the machine run for a few minutes to allow it to dry out. This prevents any vital parts from freezing and getting damaged.

  1. Pick the right deicer

To melt ice, you need to choose the right deicer (salt). Rock salt is cheap and works at temperatures above 12 degrees. However, it is tough on grass and can eat away at concrete. Magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are two other forms of salt that you can use to help melt ice. They cost more than rock salt, however, they are less harsh than rock salt and work at much lower temperatures. Be sure to wear gloves when spreading any salt by hand. Use a handheld spreader for larger areas. To store deicers, keep them off the floor and keep them dry.

  1. Traction

If ice has already formed, it’s a good idea to lay down something to add traction. Sand or kitty litter works well to add traction to any slippery surfaces.

Buying a Home Before Marriage

Buying a Home Before Marriage

Many couples nowadays don’t wait until marriage before moving in together and buying a home. However, if you are thinking about making this decision, there are a few things you need to consider in addition to the type of home you want. Here is what you should consider before buying a home before marriage.

  1. Credit score

Your credit score and the score of your partner is one of the most important factors when getting a mortgage. Higher credit scores typically lend themselves to a better mortgage rate. Unmarried couples have the option of using their credit scores separately if necessary. If you decide to do this, you have the option of having only the person with the better score apply for the loan. However, in this case, only that partner’s income will be considered for the loan. That single income will need to be enough to pay the mortgage.

  1. Current finances

Before purchasing a home, discuss any and all information about financial obligations with your partner, including your credit score, debt, and income. This information will be required when getting a mortgage, so it’s best to brief each other about your situation. You should also be aware of any debt obligations. Should you and your partner split, and they not pay their share of the mortgage, you’ll be the one responsible. For that reason, many financial planners advise that the mortgage cost more than one person’s salary.

  1. Future finances

In addition to your current finances, you’ll want to discuss how finances will work after the purchase of the home. Draft an agreement that states who will pay for what and how much. This should include the down payment, mortgage payments, fees, any upgrades to the home, and any maintenance that needs to be done.

  1. In the event of a breakup

While it might not be fun to think about, there is a possibility that the relationship will not work out. What will happen if you and your partner break up? Who will keep the house? Will you sell it? How will the purchase price be determined? Once it sells, how will you split up any profits received? These are just a few of the many questions that you should answer before purchasing a home.

How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

Buyer’s Remorse

Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret someone has after making a purchase. This is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item, such as a home. Here’s how to avoid buyer’s remorse.

What brings on buyer’s remorse?

Many things may bring on buyer’s remorse. Some of the most common are:

  1. Discussions with family and friends

Usually, they mean well, but family and friends can bring on doubts about your home. This may especially be the case if you are buying your first home. Remind yourself that they might not know the market as well as you do as it may have been a long time since they’ve purchased a home. Additionally, they might live in another part of the country, where the market is different. They just want what’s best for you, so think about and tell them why the home is best for you!

  1. No guidance from real estate agents

Some agents may not help their buyers through the closing process. With no guidance, buyer’s unanswered questions can cause them to go into a panic. Panic can lead to doubt, which can lead you to have buyer’s remorse. If you have any questions, contact your agent or other parties involved in the closing.

  1. Other houses

Looking at other houses is a surefire way to get buyer’s remorse. Unless you feel like the contract is going to fall apart, stop looking at other houses!

  1. Your own doubts

Your own doubts can definitely bring on buyer’s remorse. Instead of focusing on any negative what-ifs, think about what originally drew you to the house and why you loved it.

How to prevent buyer’s remorse

Many people start out their home buying process by creating a wants and needs list. If you made one of these, take this back out and review what you wanted. Does your home include the most important things on the list? Did you find a lot of homes that met the qualifications on your list or was this the only one? What was special about this house that made it stand out from the competition? Going back to this list helps you to sort your true feelings about the house.

You can also make a pros/cons list. Under the cons list, name all of the reasons not to buy the home. The pros list should be reasons that counterbalance all the reasons not to be a home. Reasons you might be uncomfortable buying a home may be:

  • The home is too expensive
  • Your new neighbors might not welcome you
  • You might not like the home after living there for a few months
  • The home may need upgrades and you can’t afford to make the improvements

To counter these reasons in the yes column:

  • The home isn’t too expensive because you have been preapproved and prequalified
  • Throw a housewarming party and invite your neighbors to meet them
  • You might love the home even more after living there for a few months
  • You don’t need to do all home improvements at one. Make as many improvements as your budget allows

On the yes side, be sure to list all the reasons you purchased the house in the first place. This will help you to feel more comfortable with your decision.

What is a Purchase-Money Mortgage?

Purchase-Money Mortgage

A purchase-money mortgage is a loan that the seller of the property issues to the buyer. It is often referred to as seller financing, seller carry-back or owner financing. In this agreement, the seller takes the role of the bank, offering to finance all or a portion of the cost to purchase the home. The buyer pays back the seller in monthly installments, as they would a traditional lender. However, they typically have a higher interest rate than they would have if they went to a bank.

What is the advantage of a purchase-money mortgage?

For the buyer, they often obtain more financing than they would get from a traditional lender. The seller benefits from a purchase-money mortgage as they continue to receive monetary payments in addition to the sale price of their home.

Features

The seller of the home holds a note for the purchase price of the home. They use the note as a lien against the property. This helps to ensure repayment of the loan. If there is already an institutional mortgage on the home, the purchase-money mortgage acts a second mortgage. In this case, the first lender’s mortgage must be paid off before the purchase-money loan.

Considerations

A purchase-money mortgage may be more popular in a buyer’s market when there are more homes than there are buyers. In this case, a seller must find a way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market. This might be especially important if the seller needs to sell their home due to unfavorable circumstances such as job loss, relocation, or divorce.

A buyer who cannot obtain financing because of low income or poor credit history may need help from the seller to purchase the home.

Risks

Since the seller holds the note, they must ensure the home is properly insured. Additionally, they must ensure that the home remains in good condition should the home need to be repossessed and placed back on the market.

A buyer can run the risk of losing the home, just as they would’ve if they obtained financing through a traditional means (such as a bank) if they fail to keep up the payments.

Pros and Cons of an Open Floor Plan

Open Floor Plans

Open floor plans are among some of the most sought after during the home buying process. They are characterized by one or more large, open rooms that function as multiple in one living space. The most common of which is a great room, which combines the kitchen, dining area, and living room in one space. Open floor plans work well with both small and large spaces. However, they are not the best for everything or everyone. Here are the pros and cons of an open floor plan.

Pros:

  • More social time

An open floor plan allows you to have more entertaining time. The person cooking or cleaning can converse with people in the other room, while they are cooking, cleaning, or serving the food.

  • Increase natural light and views

Removal of interior walls allows the sunlight from windows to stretch throughout the house. Additionally, open floor plans allow the views outside of the room to become part of the room. The light and views give the already larger area a spacious and airy feel.

  • Keep an eye on the kids

Since an open floor plan creates one large room, it makes it easier to keep up with what the kids are doing while you’re doing household duties.

Cons:

  • Less privacy

Since an open floor plan combines rooms into one, there isn’t as much privacy. A closed floor plan has enclosed spaces, which makes it better for homes where everyone needs their own space. Additionally, open floor plans have poor sound control, as the noise can easily travel from one area to another. This could make it difficult to have private conversations.

  • Harder to clean and contain messes

Open floor plans are exactly what the name suggests…open. As such, any mess made is out in the open. This means that you might have to spend more time on cleaning up every day. Closed spaces can help to hide a mess that you don’t want to clean yet.

  • Costly to heat and cool

Closed floor plans allow you to heat some rooms while leaving others unheated. However, that isn’t possible for an open floor plan, as all rooms share the same heating and cooling system.

Five Types of Ceilings

There are different designs for everything in your house, including your ceilings. If you are looking for a certain style house, these may help you find your perfect match. Here are five different types of ceilings.

  1. Conventional ceiling

The conventional ceiling is a standard in most homes. Essentially, it is a wall laid on its side and then covered with a plaster or drywall. There are easy to build and very functional. Conventional ceilings are typically eight feet high, though they can be up to ten feet. Higher ceilings make a room feel larger, but they cost more as you need non-standard construction materials to build them.

  1. Suspended ceiling

A suspended ceiling is a flat ceiling that is underneath an existing ceiling. It has a metal grid suspended from the existing ceiling or from the floor joists from the above floor, and ceiling panels laid into the grid. Often, a suspended ceiling is used for hiding wiring and plumbing that you need easy access to. However, suspended ceilings lower the original height of the ceiling by at least six inches. This can be an issue, especially in basements, where suspended ceilings are often used.

  1. Cathedral ceiling

Cathedral ceilings are high ceilings that are attached directly to the roof trusses. As well as providing the home with an open and spacious feel, they also offer an interesting design to your room. Trusses need to wide enough, at least 12 inches, to have proper insulation and ventilation behind the ceiling. Additionally, because of the height, cathedral ceilings are difficult to paint and change any light fixtures.

  1. Vaulted, tray, and cove ceilings

These three types of ceilings are similar. They provide a transition between the walls of the room and the ceiling, adding a decorative element to the room and adding height to the room. A vaulted ceiling angles or arches away from the wall. A tray ceiling is supposed to resemble an upside-down tray. They are often characterized by a flat ceiling with the sides sloping in from the walls to join the ceiling. Finally, cove ceilings have round concave surfaces that connect the wall and ceiling.

  1. Exposed ceilings

Exposed ceilings are characterized by the beams, trusses, or system piping left out or exposed. These are often found in older homes. However, it is possible to use fabricated beams and attach them to the ceiling to get the same historic feel.

Six Things to do to Winterize Your Home

Winterize your home

As the months get colder, there are a few things that need to be done in the home to winterize it. Here are a few things you should do to winterize your home.

Seal gaps and cracks

Seal any gaps or cracks in your foundation and walls before the winter months get rolling. This prevents cold air and critters from entering your home. If you have larger gaps, use an expanding foam filler. Around your windows and doors, use a white, paintable caulk.

Upgrade doors and windows

To prevent drafts, buy storm doors and windows. Additionally, double and triple pane windows are more energy-efficient.

Inspect wood stoves and fireplace inserts

You should hire a certified chimney sweeper come to clean the chimney and inspect the fireplace each year, if you have a wood-burning fireplace. If you have a fireplace insert, be sure to check the gasket around the door. If this is loose, replace it when the fireplace is cold. Additionally, keep snow from piling on firewood by covering logs with painter’s tarp. Use rope to secure it in place.

Create a hearth-cleaning kit

Create a hearth-cleaning kit to make cleanup more convenient. Make a basket with a whisk broom, a small dust pan, a spray container with glass cleaner, and a few old newspapers.  Keep the kit near the fireplace. Make sure to empty the dustpan into the fireplace, as it is safer to place embers into a fireplace than in a wastebasket or vacuuming them.

Insulate your pipes

Insulating your pipes reduces your risk of the pipes freezing during the winter. To check whether you can insulate your pipes, touch the pipes. If they are warm to the touch, they are good candidates for insulation. Find pre-slit pipe foam, cut it to size, and fasten it into place with duct tape.

Winterize your A/C and water lines

Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes. Make sure there is no water left in the hose. Otherwise, the water can freeze, it can weaken the lining and cause holes to form. If you air conditioner has a water shutoff valve, turn it off.